“Everything God creates is good, and God made sex, so therefore, sex, when done well, is divine.” Amy Wolf
“I’m a FenceSitter,” I told him, as I was finishing, rather nervously, my third glass of water. Our eyes met but I’m not so quick when it comes to what I suspect is fairly easily discernible to most folks. I’m usually the last person in a group, besides one of my sisters, to get a joke. People’s witty remarks come slowly to me. I think way too much. Our conversation continued without my having taken note of an elusive imploring look in his eyes.
“What do you mean?” he asked as he sat there, seemingly content and happy in one of the handmade chair-stools at the large wooden table in his kitchen.
“Sometimes I don’t know what to do,” and I told him a little about what being a FenceSitter means to me. I also told him the story behind the wonderful image. He still hadn’t said anything as to the irony of what I was describing to him.
He grabbed another beer. “Just do whatever you want to do,” he said with an ease of mind that may accompany a carefree lifestyle with minimal responsibilities.
I needed to decide, I thought. In reality, I’d already decided on what I was going to do with my evening. The navy blue shirt he was still pulling over his head when I opened my door felt like a sudden hard rain that comes while you’re driving, causing you to pull over to the side and wait.
“I guess I don’t know what I want,” I responded. I looked at the drawings on the large table, along with initials and short sentences. I imagined the people who had sat there most likely inspired by alcohol, the main source of which being Pabst Blue Ribbon and much of the time, Johnny Cash’s music.
“Well, that’s no good. Let me get you another glass of water,” he said. His apartment was quieter than usual for a weekend. He said his roommate was gone. I asked if he had plans for the evening.
“Nope,” he said, without any hint about what he might like to do or wished he could do, which was a part of my acute but temporary dilemma. Another part was that when I’d sat down at his table and told him I was on my way out for the evening, he’d said, “You look nice.” I’d never seen the look on his face that I saw in that moment. His eyes had only traveled from my hair and face to the crisscrossed straps of my summer dress. “Very nice,” he politely added. He reminded me of a cowboy in an old western movie when he nodded his head in a slight way giving me the impression that his compliment was genuine. I needed more water.
“I can’t believe I’m this age,” I finally said, as I finished another glass of water with about twenty more minutes behind me.
He smiled. “Are you saying making decisions doesn’t get any easier when you get older?” he asked.
“Exactly,” I said. I was no longer sitting but had stood up, taking hold of my handbag and keys, even though it didn’t change the way I felt. “I mean it ought to be easier by now. I should know what I want.” I realized that making decisions were much easier for me when I was younger. I don’t know when things changed. I guess when I got sick.
I do know one thing I want and that is to feel good. I’m tired of being sick and damn tired of pain. I’m really really tired of it. I’m tired of feeling like life is passing me by because I’m too weak and fatigued to do the things I wish I could do. I’m also tired of being indecisive and unsure of myself — sort of unfamiliar in my skin.
“Sometimes being a FenceSitter is hard,” I told him. Time was passing quickly and I was counting every minute by the clock on his stove.
“Right now you’re sitting at a fence,” he said. He’d told me earlier that he had built the table out of fence posts. “How does that feel?” he asked with a smile on his face.
I finally got it! My new acquaintance is a FenceBuilder and I was sitting at the FenceTable talking about being a FenceSitter!. I laughed, but only slightly. I was a little embarrassed that I hadn’t gotten this already. I was also a bit taken by the irony.
“It feels pretty good,” I responded, and it did, except for my decision-making dilemma that I was creating on my own. Nature had indeed slowed me down, but things had cleared enough so that I could have moved on towards my original destination. Instead, I drank more water. There were many things going on in my mind at once.
My age, being sick all the time, feeling like I’d lost so much time to grief, and last year, to an emotional trauma. I wanted to live but that was why I’d made an earlier engagement.
“Help me out here,” I asked the FenceBuilder. “I’m really too tired to drive,” I remarked. I was sick. It was true. In fact, I was barely getting around but felt I’d go crazy if I didn’t get out and away from my home for a while. I’d been in the bed most of the day with nausea and fatigue. It had been a bad day.
“Ahh, you’re not too sick,” he responded, and he smiled. He didn’t believe me. I could tell. I saw no use in trying to explain what fibromyalgia or CFS is like. I did make an attempt at what felt like defending myself.
“I woke up sick. I really don’t feel good.”
“Then why did you make a plan to go out?”
People don’t understand chronic sickness, surely not when they can’t see it, and even more surely, when the sick person is freshly showered and dressed up a little. Looking good and being sick don’t mix well in the minds of those who’ve never experienced an everyday battle with illness.
“I just wanted to get out for a while,” I said. We talked more and I drank more water. I didn’t know what to make of the feelings I was having. I wanted to keep my plans, kind of. I think I wanted my cake and to eat it too, but I wasn’t sure that was the only dynamic happening. I felt like if I was continuing to sit there with this man, that possibly that was exactly what I really wanted to do.
I honestly didn’t feel like driving by that time and quickly approaching was guilt about getting sidetracked, even if Mother Nature did have a little something to do with it. The rest was up to me, like keeping my agreements with people, which is important to me.
As the minutes passed we continued enjoying each others company. I told him the story of me having had two tick-borne illnesses. I told him I’d been struck with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome after the second one, which was Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever that had lasted over a month before a doctor finally prescribed medication. “I lost a lot of weight,” I said. “I barely weighed a hundred pounds.”
“Well you can’t weigh too much more than that now,” he remarked. I realized he was right. “I carry more than that around on both my shoulders every day,” and he laughed.
Mother Nature again! I had a hot flash. He got me another glass of water. Now I was thinking about his arms and shoulders. There had been many times I’d seen him arriving home in the heat after a long day of work without his shirt on. Sometimes I’d wondered if it had been for my benefit but I always brushed it off. I did however flirt with the young man.
Men flirt with younger women all the time. Men date younger women all the time. I’ve never flirted much, but I feel like time isn’t necessarily on my side. If I’m ever going to know what it feels like to flirt, then I figure I better get to it, so I have, a couple of times. It felt safe and I must admit, it was fun. I had no clue that the FenceBuilder might feel the same way I was feeling when I’d seen him cleaning out his truck or meandering around in his yard without his shirt on. Well, maybe I did have some clues.
I was trying to get more clues by the fourth or fifth glass of water I drank while I sat at the fence-table. “Well, now I have more things to think about in making my decision, or rather, changing a decision at the last moment,” I said followed by a deep breath I felt like I needed.
“Like what?” he asked, seemingly naive but now, I realize, he most certainly was not.
“Well, imagining you slinging around hundreds of pounds on your shoulders doesn’t help matters.”
He smiled. I excused myself. I needed fresh air. I had to think about canceling my plans. I felt pretty bad about it but time had gotten away from me and I guess, I simply couldn’t walk away from the desire to go back to see the FenceBuilder.
I made a phone call changing my plans. I made a brief trip home discovering a plate of fresh pasta with herbs and chicken in my refrigerator. A neighbor had cooked it for me and left it while I had been out. I was starving. I ate it immediately. I felt better. I thought I’d made the right decision.
Arriving back at the FenceTable I accepted a beer, which is pretty unusual for me, but I had a feeling the rest of the evening would be an unusual experience.
I think the FenceBuilder may have used my pain to get closer to my body, but I’m not going to hold it against him. “Does your shoulders or back hurt?” he asked.
“My entire body hurts when it hurts,” I responded and quickly added, “although it does settle in my shoulders.”
“Would you like a massage?”
I never say yes to this! “Yes, I would,” I said.
Stress had filled several consecutive days. Financial worries had been making me nauseated but also disturbing me were my deep concerns about my son.
He has an ACT team who doesn’t do shit and this makes me mad, and stressed! I am a mother — not a social worker, a doctor, a therapist, a money manager, which are all treatment services the ACT team claims to be providing for my son. I’ve been doing their job for the best of a year.
After massaging my shoulders, he casually sat back down in his chair. Smiling he asked me what I wanted as he opened another beer.
I didn’t think much about my stress for the next twenty-four hours, other than I might pay a price in fatigue and pain. Much fun was had. There was nothing confusing about that.
As I write, still fatigued, I’m reminded of my wonderful meeting with a Morgan horse named Candy. I knew I’d pay a price in pain for the fun lesson I had with her. My body feels about the same today as it did two days after my lesson with her and I learned some things too.
Riding a horse gives me joy for several weeks afterward. Horses are good medicine for depression. I had great fun with the FenceBuilder, but unlike my time riding horses in which I always feel an emotional connection, I was left with somewhat of a wanting feeling.
Something was missing. I realized it was in my heart.
I missed my best friend who is on another vacation. I longed for his company all day. I longed for a feeling of being connected. I took my younger dog for an early evening walk to a nearby natural butterfly garden.
I thought about how I was feeling. Embrace this wanting I feel. Know it and feel it. So I did. It was not such an easy feeling to sit with.
Returning home I snuggled up close to my canine companions. They are my best friends. Their sweet eyes revealed their loyalty and love. I rubbed their soft fur.
Lying in my living room, brightened only by a colorful hanging lamp I recently installed, I saw the light flickering on my cell phone. My dear friend had sent me a wonderful long text message, which he’d never done before. He usually emails from his trips away. His text felt more intimate than the emails. He shared interesting little details of his trip. Little things that made such a huge impact on me. This soothed some the wanting in my heart.
I realized as I embraced the feeling, that I have some really good people in my life. People who understand I live with pain and sickness. Not dozens of people, but a few, which is enough. I was reminded of how much I love these friends.
I learned too that part of why I enjoy riding horses is that they sense how I feel and this is a wonderful connection. I actually communicated on an emotional level much more with the Morgan, Candy, than I did with the handsome FenceBuilder.
I learned too that FenceBuilders are indeed strong. I have no doubt in my mind that the man can carry two or three times my weight over his shoulders.
As to being a FenceSitter, well, maybe the years ahead of me will change this some, maybe. For a short time I was free, like butterflies on a sunny summer day. As to my decision to return to the handsome FenceBuilder’s FenceTable, accepting a shoulder massage, which I had strongly suspected would lead to more, I have no regrets.